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Old 03-13-2009, 11:05 AM   #46
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Cramer was DESTROYED by stewart. I kind of felt sorry for him, he looked so uncomfortable.
I agree....Jon went in for the kill. It was a great interview. And I do give Cramer respect for being there. I wonder how many others would have backed out.
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:41 PM   #47
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wow.

any real journalist would want to nail someone in an interview the way stewart cleaned up cramer.

it is unfortunate for cramer that he's become the face of it, especially when originally the daily show was going for that other numpty whose name i can't recall offhand.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:15 PM   #48
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^It was originally Rick Santelli who asked why the government should be bailing out people, or in his words, "losers" who can't pay their mortgages, while he was kissing the asses of the banks and lending companies that made these bad loans in the first place. Cramer might be somewhat of a tool and is far from a serious analyst, but at least he's not a complete jerk-off like Santelli. However, CNBC should have to face what they've done, and Jon Stewart was absolutely brilliant and right in everything he said. As much as I may disagree with what Cramer and the gang over at CNBC have done during the economic crisis, I do applaud him for being willing to go on the show and also keeping his cool during it.
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Old 03-14-2009, 04:00 AM   #49
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Is it me or did Cramer appear at times that he was about to cry? His voice sounded like it was quivering at times. I enjoyed the interview and think Jon Stewart raised his creditability last night.
I could hear it too. I dont think that it was that he was on the edge of tears though. People tend to get like that when they are really apologetic and submissive. It seems to be an unconscious defense mechanism of sorts
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:42 PM   #50
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Don't know if it's been mentioned (and I haven't read past the first page so if this is off topic now, my bad), but we have a channel called the Business News Network up here in Canada. Actual, sober analysis of real market issues and events that doesn't (seem to) cradle the nuts of corporate CEO's all the time, as opposed to Jim Cramer's inane bullshit for people that know nothing about money. It is how financial channels ought to be
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:27 PM   #51
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The number of grad students in science is staggering compared to prior years. The rate of success in biological sciences for a person who completes a PhD to get a tenure-track position and their own research lab is about 2%. Do you understand how low this is? So now you have the vast majority of these people ending up either in industry, or editing for research publications, or working as research associates on non-tenure track, etc. That person pretty much HAS contributed all that he or she can to science because they have no independence, they don't decide what grants to apply for and they don't dictate the direction of their lab. Sure, banking or law also happen to be more financially rewarding, but don't mistake it as the only or even the primary driving force behind this kind of switch.

It is also a hell of a lot easier to go get a 3-year JD or a 2-year MBA and go into finance or corporate law than it is to do a 7-year PhD and then a 3-year postdoc and gamble on whether you'll be tenured. It used to be that you could get a PhD in science in 3 years, that was common with all of the older tenured profs. Now it's basically unheard of to do it in anything less than 5 years, and my own head of the department said he didn't remember anyone in the last 10 years who had done it in less than 6 years. Plus the mandatory postdoc on top of that....remember that research-based science PhDs are nothing like PhDs in say, English, which are considerably shorter, considerably cheaper. Although those can be even worse since there are more students getting them.
Why did you choose corporate law instead of another area of law which might have offered more potential for tie-in with your background and experience in biology research? Not asking to be confrontational nor to imply that you "should've" chosen something else, just curious.

Anyhow, it's valuable and interesting to get the perspective of someone with a 'hard sciences' background on this, since that's a careers trajectory I know nothing about. As an academic and a social scientist I can relate somewhat to the points in your second paragraph; tenure-track academic opportunities have of course contracted enormously in virtually all fields, even as the number of PhDs has risen. A colleague of mine in English standardly advises any of his undergrads who mention an interest in grad school NOT to do it unless they can get a fellowship which would leave them mostly debt-free, because the chances of landing a job that will enable them to pay off their debts in a reasonable amount of time (not to mention to publish and attend conferences and win grants and all the other stuff they'd presumably want to do) are so small. The situation isn't quite that dire in political science since--depending significantly on which subfield you study--the opportunities available outside academia are somewhat greater; but I understood his perspective completely, and not infrequently give the same advice myself. And even in political science, there are considerable differences between how long it typically takes to complete a PhD in one of the more fieldwork-intensive subfields as opposed to, say, political theory.

I can also really see where Irvine is coming from, though. So many times since I've started teaching, I've had former grad students drop by to say hello, whereupon they inform me that they're going back to get an MBA or a law degree because, as more than one explicitly put it, "I feel like a loser" making "only" ~$40,000 when all their fellow class valedictorians from high school and undergrad seem to be making six-figure incomes, all their siblings from the upper-class families they grew up in have bigger houses and more cars than they do, etc. And in many cases these were young people who'd been doing what I'd consider very exciting and important work--serving as translators at the UN, or journalists in DC, or liaisons for human rights NGOs working within the US and abroad. Yet they feel like "losers" because this work doesn't bring them a good salary. Obviously people are free to make their own career choices and it's not my place to tell anyone how they "should" feel about the work they've been doing, but I do find something very sad in all that. The devaluation of work which is socially important and valuable, just because it doesn't come with the sort of paycheck that someone with their background of academic success "should" have been aiming for.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:09 PM   #52
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Why did you choose corporate law instead of another area of law which might have offered more potential for tie-in with your background and experience in biology research? Not asking to be confrontational nor to imply that you "should've" chosen something else, just curious.
Because I found Intellectual Property to be boring, unchallenging and very paper-intensive. It is also incredibly slow-moving, especially if you are in patents where you may be trading submissions with the patent office for 20 years. I actually went to law school with the intention of doing IP and simply didn't want to do it once I found out a bit more about it.

I was also very good at corp tax law, and it is by far the most challenging area of law to get into. As a very well-known lawyer once told me, "tax is for gold medalists and people who want to be gold medalists." I admit, part of me liked that challenge.

Hope that answers the question for you.

ETA: With respect to salary, I was never much driven by money. I grew up not having any, and therefore I had no luxury lifestyle to support or wish to maintain. At the same time, it is really nice to be in a position where money isn't something that I have to obsess about.
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:50 PM   #53
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Yes, it does. And now that you say that, I vaguely remember talking awhile back to someone whose daughter had also gone to law school intending to focus on intellectual property law, and had the same experience with it you did.

I agree that being forced by circumstances to 'obsess about' personal finances is something everyone would prefer to avoid, and particularly for those who have multiple kids, elderly dependents, or one or more people with serious medical problems in the family, said circumstances are all too common. But I also think too many people's sense of when it's time to start 'obsessing' is far more shaped by questionable peer pressures than they'd like to admit, and it's distressing to me to see bright, talented young people who already are or could shortly be doing some genuinely exciting and important things conclude that such work isn't worth the effort if it won't quickly (or ever) yield them an 'enviable' socioeconomic status.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:06 PM   #54
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Joh Stewart is the only one who ask the right

I watch the news all the time, after the Jon Stewart show Thursday night,
no one even mention it Friday morning like morning Jo or CNN, I was waiting for someone else to talk about it eve, Nightly News, NOBODY,
I"ve seem Jon Stewart ask other people questions nobody every ask,
I think he should get a longer show and call every body out

Joh is GREAT
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:15 PM   #55
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A colleague of mine in English standardly advises any of his undergrads who mention an interest in grad school NOT to do it unless they can get a fellowship which would leave them mostly debt-free, because the chances of landing a job that will enable them to pay off their debts in a reasonable amount of time (not to mention to publish and attend conferences and win grants and all the other stuff they'd presumably want to do) are so small.

it seems kind of sad for me to say this, because i dearly loved many of my undergraduate courses and i honestly do thrill at the thought of spending hours doing close, careful reading and analysis of literature with other likeminded individuals, but part of me really feels like i dodged a bullet in not pursuing a PhD in likely English or American Studies. it's not that i wouldn't have derived tremendous pleasure and satisfaction and fulfillment from doing something i know i love to do (teach), but i think that i might have been setting myself on a near-impossible task. i suppose it was the right decision, since there were (and still are) many things that interest me, and so perhaps the rigors of the PhD market (and simply getting the degree itself) did the right thing and weeded an individual such as myself out early on.



Quote:
I can also really see where Irvine is coming from, though. So many times since I've started teaching, I've had former grad students drop by to say hello, whereupon they inform me that they're going back to get an MBA or a law degree because, as more than one explicitly put it, "I feel like a loser" making "only" ~$40,000 when all their fellow class valedictorians from high school and undergrad seem to be making six-figure incomes, all their siblings from the upper-class families they grew up in have bigger houses and more cars than they do, etc. And in many cases these were young people who'd been doing what I'd consider very exciting and important work--serving as translators at the UN, or journalists in DC, or liaisons for human rights NGOs working within the US and abroad. Yet they feel like "losers" because this work doesn't bring them a good salary. Obviously people are free to make their own career choices and it's not my place to tell anyone how they "should" feel about the work they've been doing, but I do find something very sad in all that. The devaluation of work which is socially important and valuable, just because it doesn't come with the sort of paycheck that someone with their background of academic success "should" have been aiming for.


just to build on this a bit ... what i was sensing as a turn-of-the-century undergrad was not so much that it was the salary and promise of a 6-figure income that drew people to Wall Street and MBA programs (actually, if you ask me, the people who are in it for the security and status and 6-figure income seemed to go to law school), but that the entire business profession somehow became "cool." that it was the people on Wall Street who were the innovators and the best and the brightest and creative. the idea of the CEO as some sort of rock star -- think Richard Branson -- really took hold in the 1990s as the economy took off, and i think that heavily influenced many people around my age as they were discovering what it is they might have wanted to do in life. i think lots of bright people are capable of doing lots of different things -- it just seems like "business" (for lack of a better word, and so that i can compare it directly to "medicine" or "law") took a larger share of said bright people because it was so shiny and glittery than it did in decades past.

here's an interesting article from the NYT today about how business schools are reacting to the current crisis. it's very interesting reading.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/bu...school.html?em
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Old 03-16-2009, 10:09 PM   #56
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Jon Stewart's Epiphany
Has a Comedian Just Saved America?

By PAM MARTENS

As testimony to how Orwellian life has become under the outrages of Wall Street hubris, last week saw a comedian, who poses as an anchor on a fake news show, grab the reins of the Wall Street investigation from the actual investigators in Congress.

Either Jon Stewart is the smartest man in America or he has incredible instincts. In a week’s time, he has zeroed in, like a heat-seeking missile, on the core of Wall Street’s malady. How insightful of Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” to rationalize that the core of Wall Street’s corruption might well be the same core that it has drawn the darkest curtain around: trading.

Stewart is the son of an educational consultant mother (Marion Leibowitz), physicist father (Donald Leibowitz) and trading technology guru brother (Larry Leibowitz) an executive at the New York Stock Exchange. He’s got a smart family and he’s equally smart, advancing the national debate on a comedy channel.

After a week of explosive commentary and video clips of questionable reporting at the cable business network, CNBC, Stewart interviewed Jim Cramer on Thursday, March 12. Cramer hosts CNBC’s “Mad Money” show which promotes itself as an advocate for the small investor while, at the same time, suggesting lots of buying and selling of specific stocks. Stewart used the highly anticipated interview to show a devastating clip revealing Cramer to be the embodiment of the market manipulators that he rails against on his show. Acknowledging on the clip that he would never say something like this on TV, Cramer states:

“You know, a lot of times when I was short at my hedge fund and I was positioned short, meaning I needed it down, I would create a level of activity beforehand that could drive the futures. It doesn’t take much money.”

Allow me to translate:

You know, a lot of times when I was making a large bet that prices would decline in a specific stock or bond or derivative when I worked in the largely unregulated world of private money called hedge funds, and I needed to give that decline a little unseen assistance to make my bets profitable, I would go into the futures market to trade. That’s because I could put down as little as 4 to 10 percent of the money I needed for the trade and borrow the balance in what is called a margin account.

The academics and economists (none of whom ever worked a day on Wall Street) have been telling us in OpEds and speeches and testimony before Congress that the crumbling Wall Street structure results from bundled subprime mortgages, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and asset backed securities.

Trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds have been spent on the premise that these toxic assets are the problem. The fate of a nation has been staked on that analysis: that if we get these assets off the balance sheets of the major firms, the credit spigots will begin to flow once again, the banks will once again trust each other and lend to each other, and investors will resume buying stocks and bonds with their confidence in the system restored.

Stewart’s weeklong commentary and clips helped to dramatically expose this logic as bogus. None of the toxic instruments would have grown to a problem capable of collapsing the country’s financial system if their trading had been regulated, transparent and fairly reported on by mainstream media. The security instruments were never the problem; how they were traded was the problem. For example, the mortgage and debt securities were, in reality, junk bonds but they were traded as triple A. They were not traded on an exchange where price discovery would have shown them to be junk bonds, they were traded in an opaque over the counter market. In the case of credit default swaps, they were traded in a market created by the very firms who needed to hide for as long as possible (while executives reaped windfall compensation and bonuses) the dubious pricing of the securities and gargantuan amounts being issued. (See CounterPunch column “How Wall Street Blew Itself Up.”)

Wall Street is supposed to have an early warning system that if something is amiss it will self correct in time to avoid a collapse of the system. That early warning system is known as price action. In other words, the trading price of Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and AIG should have begun a downward trajectory years ago as these firms loaded up on leveraged junk. There is only one possible scenario, in my opinion, to explain why this did not happen: trading in the market was rigged. Thanks to Jim Cramer, the public now knows how easy it is to get stock prices to move up or down. (As one more example, see “Wall Street Powerhouses Invested Alongside Madoff.”)

To be a fair marketplace, the trading price of stocks and bonds must represent the composite wisdom of all market participants who have the same opportunity to ferret out information from public sources. When trading is internalized at the big Wall Street firms (meaning they are allowed to match customer stock orders in-house), when they are able to create and clandestinely operate their own trading venues off the radar screens of the regulators, when they are able to create offshore vehicles like Structured Investment Vehicles to hide bets gone bad, there is no longer any composite wisdom. There is only dumbed down information which the public possesses from CNBC and the superior information available to those operating inside the clandestine system. (See Maria Bartiromo and the Co-Branding of CNBC and Citigroup.)

The big Wall Street firms that taxpayers are bailing out even gobbled up some of the largest specialist firms. Those are the folks who are required to maintain fair and orderly markets on the regulated stock exchanges. But here’s what the specialists are really doing, according to charges disclosed on March 4, 2009 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

“…from 1999 through 2005, the firms violated their basic obligation as specialists to serve public customer orders over their own proprietary interests. As specialist member firms on one or more of the regional and options exchanges, the firms had a duty to match executable public customer or ‘agency’ buy and sell orders and not to fill customer orders through trades from the firm's own accounts when those customer orders could be matched with other customer orders. However, the firms violated this obligation by filling orders through proprietary trades rather than through other customer orders, thereby causing millions of dollars of customer harm.”

The $70 million in disgorgement and penalties the SEC charged 14 specialist firms (some of which are owned by Wall Street powerhouses like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup) is now effectively coming out of the taxpayers’ pocket since these are two firms enrolled in the taxpayer cash for toxic asset trash bailout bonanza. In other words, the public investor is now paying back the money that was stolen from the public investor in the continuing Wall Street saga of heads I win, tails you lose. Is it any wonder it takes a comedian to deal with this stuff.

The speed at which Congress begins daily sessions investigating trading of both toxic and non toxic securities will determine the speed at which this country begins to rebuild from the ashes.

After the 1929 crash and as the nation entered the Great Depression in the early 1930s, the Senate convened hearings by the Committee on Banking and Currency that peeled back month after month from 1932 to 1934 previously impenetrable layers of trading fraud. Each layer of fraud opened a window into the next layer. The hearings did not focus on assets, toxic or otherwise, it focused on the trading of assets: how Wall Street created dark pool operators (today’s hedge funds) to trade on inside information and manipulate prices; how some of the most respected men on Wall Street had participated in trading frauds; how some of the largest firms were secretly manipulating stock prices; how respected business columnists were taking bribes from Wall Street players to move trading prices.

I’ve often pondered just how it was that every large brokerage firm had the same idea at almost the same time in the early 1990s: to put a TV set airing CNBC in every stockbroker’s office. The managers came around and offered the broker a deal they couldn’t refuse: a deeply discounted price on the TV and the firm would install it hanging from the edge of the ceiling so it wouldn’t take up precious desk space. Out of 55 brokers in my office at the time, only myself and one other broker declined. Can you think of any other industry that wants its workers sitting around watching TV instead of working? Unless, of course, what CNBC is telling brokers to buy and sell is actually considered part of the work day by the Wall Street masters.

As you ponder that, consider this excerpt from testimony given at the Friday, June 3, 1932 Senate hearings:

William A. Gray, Counsel to the Committee: So that the committee may understand the matter which I am now going to present, permit me to say that I am going to show by Mr. Lion himself that he is a publicity man, and that for a period of three years he was acting for numerous brokerage houses in the city of New York, that he furnished through various journals, including radio speeches, publicity for certain stocks, pools which were then being operated by the brokerage houses, he being paid for such by cash and by being given calls on the particular stocks in questions, at prices that he could sell them to his advantage, the brokerage house of course giving him credit for same in an account which he carried and settling with him the same as they would settle with any other person who had actually bought and sold, he not being required to put up any cash at all. Now, Mr. Lion, please give us your full name.

Mr. Lion: David M. Lion…

Mr. Gray: What is your business?

Mr. Lion: Financial publicity.

Mr. Gray: How long have you been engaged in that business?

Mr. Lion: Five years or more.

Mr. Gray: Prior to engaging in that business and for the past five years have you at any time conducted a paper of your own?

Mr. Lion: Yes.

Mr. Gray: What was the name of that paper?

Mr. Lion: The Stock and Bond Reporter…

Mr. Gray: How long did you continue the use of the radio for the purpose of disseminating information about stocks?

Mr. Lion: I used it all of 1929…

Mr. Gray: Now, you did not do your own radio talking, did you?

Mr. Lion: No, sir.

Mr. Gray: What was the name of the man you employed to do your radio talking?

Mr. Lion: I employed William J. McMahon…

Mr. Gray: Who is he?

Mr. Lion: He was an economist…

Mr. Gray: Each of his talks was devoted to a particular stock, wasn’t it?

Mr. Lion: No.

Mr. Gray: Sometimes only one stock?

Mr. Lion: Yes, sir…

Mr. Gray: But when he ended up his talk as a usual thing he referred to a particular stock and boosted it. That is true, isn’t it?

Mr. Lion: Yes, sir.

Mr. Gray: And he was a salaried man on your staff for that purpose, wasn’t he?

Mr. Lion. Yes, sir.

Jon Stewart has opened the floodgates. Let the hearings begin.
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:18 AM   #57
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John always goes in for the kill. You can't help but respect the guy, right? I mean, even if you disagree with him, you have to hand it to him.
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Old 03-17-2009, 02:25 PM   #58
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For example, the mortgage and debt securities were, in reality, junk bonds but they were traded as triple A.
Thank you, AIG.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:15 PM   #59
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Hands in the cookie jar, at AIG.

OpenSecrets | Before the Fall, AIG Payouts Went to Washington - Capital Eye
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:29 PM   #60
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I watched MSNBC briefly today and some WASP with a fat face was trying to tell me the criticisms of the AIG bonuses were motivated by 'class war' politics. What a stupid dumb bastard.
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